The Challenge of Adaptive Learning

[In this special report from Edsurge, you’ll hear about several schools that have implemented computer-based programs that provide tools that “adapt” to student learning needs. In my work at the Fox Chapel Area School District I witnessed the benefits of this approach with the Carnegie Learning math program that provided one of the first blended learning environments for K-12. ]

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AdaptiveLearnThird-graders from Joseph Weller Elementary School, Milpitas (CA) | Photo Credit: Paty Gomes/EdSurge


Meet Aaron Cheng, my daughter’s sixth-grade math teacher. He’s a smart, technically savvy 28 year-old at the Alameda Community Learning Center, a progressive charter school just fifteen minutes from the tech mecca of San Francisco. I asked him the other day if ACLC was thinking of using any adaptive learning software.

“What’s that?” Cheng asks.

Thirty five miles south at Joseph Weller Elementary School in Milpitas, everyone knows about adaptive learning. When EdSurge reporter, Paty Gomes, and I visit, third graders are sitting on bright red plastic chairs in an expansive, airy learning lab, each quietly reading a book they selected from Reading Counts, an adaptive program that suggests titles that can help them improve in a certain area—say, vocabulary. So many reporters and educators have visited this cutting-edge lab that teacher Diane Semrau doesn’t bother to introduce the camera-laden visitors, and the kids could hardly care less. After they go off to lunch, district superintendent Cary Matsuoka and director of technology Chin Song sit for an interview, reeling off information about the program.

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